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Monday, 8 October 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 10 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 10 of 10

Week 10 (Mon 01/10 - Sun 07/10)

Mon: 10K Easy @ 8:45/mile
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: 7.0 Miles inc. 4.25 Miles @ (6:50,6:20,6:35,6:23...)
Thurs: Rest Day
Fri: Rest Day
Sat : 5.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun 27:48  (8:58/mile)
Sun: 27.0 Miles incl. Chester Marathon 2:55:36 (51st/8th V45) (6:43/mile) [Comeback PB]

Total Mileage: 45.2

So this was the final week in the lead up to the marathon and it started off with another 3 days of carb depletion from Monday to Wednesday.

Wednesday Track Session

The aim here was to do around 5 miles at something close to Sunday's race pace but it is important to be realistic about what to expect when doing this session in these circumstances. Paces seem pretty hard compared to what they normally would simply due to the fact of having consumed minimal carbs for three days.

So after miles of 6:50, 6:20, 6:35, 6:23 I then came to a grinding halt after 400m of the 5th mile, a bit like when a car runs out of fuel. It wasnt a case of not being able to struggle on for another 3 laps to complete the session but 4 days before a marathon is no time to be struggling on just for the sake of completing some arbitary distance.

Dewsbury parkrun

After messing up VLM in 2011 by getting a wee bit carried away at Pymmes parkrun the day before I was happy to volunteer for pacing duties of something around 23, 24, 25 minutes. When Nicki Dawson said 'but I've only got a 28 minute sign' it took about a nanosecond to respond with 'That'll do' :)

So 27:48 followed by some good old marathon banter with Event Director Jonny Cartwright who was hoping to improve his 3:04 time at VLM down to sub 3 at the Mablethorpe Marathon while I was over at Chester.



On the way over to Chester Racecourse on Sunday morning we called in at the services just before Chester and the first person that we bumped into was Harrogate parkrun Event Director, Adam Prentis. I got a distinct impression that he was being pretty coy about how much effort he was going to be putting into the race stating that his main focus was on other events. I immediately pedicted a PB for him, more of which later...

The venue itself all seemed to work really well with everything being in close proximity within the infield of the racecourse, car parking, start, finish, tented village etc.


Conditions could be summed up adequately in one word - Perfect! :) About 6-7c at the start, rising to maybe 10-12c through the race with no wind at all. No excuses at all in there.

The Race

My approach to this race was always going to be an effort based one, the time would sort itself out.

So breaking the bulk of the race down into 5K blocks, the aim was to roll along for the first 6 sections of 5K absorbing whatever the course presented in terms of challenges whilst keeping the effort level constant, and then hopefully conserving sufficient resources to then get stuck into the 7th and 8th 5K sections to produce a strong finish. The last 2.2K is just something that you deal with as best as you can when you get there.

0-5 Km 20:36
A slightly unusual start to a road marathon in that a big chunk of the first mile was on the racecourse itself .... and it was soggy! Nonetheless a nice steady start that included a few minor undulations up and around the walled city.

6-10 Km 20:34
Now out of the city and time to get into an appropriate rhythm on the country lanes around Chester. I just looked at the time every 5k to see if it was roughly corresponding to how I was feeling and I was quite happy with this opening roll out over the first quarter of the race

11-15 Km 20:36
When I saw this split it quite amused me that, despite a fair few undulations along the way, the 5km splits had only varied by 2 secs so far. And I also seemed to remember that Jocelyn  had run two 20:36 splits in the first three 5Ks when I had followed the Berlin tracker last week.

16-20 Km 20:00
I was starting to nudge the effort level along just a little bit now that it was into the second hour and approaching halfway but fully aware that this has often been the area of the race in the past where I have started pushing too much too early.

So nice and controlled was the order of the day even when going through some of the small villages where the enthusiastic support could easily have led to a picking up of pace if not careful.

21-25 Km 19:54

This section  had a loop of about a mile including the halfway timing mat. As I went into the loop the leaders were just coming out of it and I was interested in seeing how Phill Taylor was getting on since he had appeared to be looking very confident (although downplaying it well ;)) when I spoke to him before the race.

There was a group of 5 leaders and he wasnt with them and nor could I see him down the road either. It didnt mean he wasnt having a good race, just that he wasnt likely to get one of the bigger cheques.

After going around the loop and coming out of the other end I was then greeted by a cheery shout from Adam Prentis going into the loop. A quick mental calculation and I was satisfied that my original prediction that he was going for a big PB was undoubtedly accurate ;)

Always look for the ones downplaying their prospects for the big performances :)

26-30 Km 20:47
I was quite happy with this split as this section had included a couple of significant drawn out inclines and I was very much on my own now. I could see maybe 2 runners in the 400m up ahead and wasnt aware of anyone in near proximity behind. But I was feeling good and when it actually registered that I had now completed the first six 5km sections with no dramas I was actually looking forward to getting stuck into these last two 5km sections. What me? Looking forward to the closing stages of a marathon? Well, I never.......

31-35 Km 20:42
It has to said that the support around the course was great, not vast numbers as you get in the big city marathons but small pockets of very enthusiastic supporters as you passed through the various small villages en route. It really helped that every runner had their first name displayed prominently on their number or at least it really helped most of the time.

It was in this section that I was running next to the kerb when a young 14-15 year old whipper snapper leaned over and said very calmly directly into my left ear 'Eat shit, Steve'. Charming!! I spent the next half a mile rotating between thoughts of 'Did he really say that' to 'Is it worth adding a minute to my time to go and give a youngster a gentle lesson in manners? :p' to 'That was actually quite funny'. The end result was that the 21st mile had passed without me hardly noticing it, so maybe he did me a favour!

36-40 Km 21:27
So on to the 8th and final 5Km block and my thoughts revolved around starting a big push for the finish. It felt like there should be a sub 20:00 5K in the legs with a little persuasion.

But then someone with a warped sense of humour put a pretty steep hill that probably lasted for a good half mile around the 24 mile point. Reading accounts since the event it would appear, not surprisingly, that this was the undoing of many participants.

I was quite happy going up it but it was clearly costing time. Never mind, I was here to race the course and maximise my finishing position so the hill was irrelevant really.

The Final 2.2K
I knew that this section held no surprises so just had a straight run to the finish now along the flat riverside section called The Groves that led back to the racecourse.

This was a pic captured by on course supporter Dawn Broom during the 26th mile:

The picture above gives a good idea of the length of gaps in the second half of the race. However, what I didnt know at this point was that just out of sight behind me there was this chap who could definitely see me and was closing:
To say that I wasnt expecting him to be there is a big understatement!

This was Kelvin Dickinson, who was one of the three people that I was following on the Berlin tracker last week as he landed an impressive 2:49. This is nothing new, he often appears out of nowhere in the closing stages of long races, including this year's Spen 20 and VLM,  to make me have to look for another gear that I dont really want to go looking for.

On this occassion I was blissfully unaware that he was there and finished with just over a minute to spare but what was he doing there? A 2:56 the week after a 2:49? Bonkers!

The Finish
The last 400m was back on to the soggy racecourse so it was just a case of tying to pick out the driest line to the finishing gantry.

Over the line and the clock showed 2:55:38 and there was a couple of seconds to come off that for the chip time.

The Garmin splits dont add up to the overall time because the Garmin measured about 500m long so they are just approximations but useful nonetheless.

My immediate thought on finishing was that it was a really good performance, that the time was worth a little bit better on a fast course (in fact I reckon it was worth say 2:53:29 just in case Joss reads this ;)) and that the execution couldnt have really been much better.

But more than anything else the big thing for me was that the feeling of conquering a marathon for the first time at VLM back in April, rather than it conquering me as had happened 20+ times before, was no fluke and I had been able to repeat the process here at Chester.

For those more comfortable with mile splits:

1. 6:45
2. 6:32
3. 6:37
4. 6:34
5. 6:38
6. 6:34
7. 6:42
8. 6:40
9. 6:28
10. 6:28
11. 6:24
12. 6:24
13. 6:31
14. 6:26
15. 6:17
16. 6:33
17. 6:51
18. 6:41
19. 6:40
20. 6:31
21. 6:49
22. 6:45
23. 7:06
24. 6:54
25. 7:06
26. 6:56

As always times dont really mean a lot unless put in context so this is the updated list of attempts at marathon distance since the comeback:

Apr 2009: Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 [Age 43]
Oct 2009: Fleetwood Marathon DNF [Age 44]
Apr 2010: Blackpool Marathon 3:08:13 [Age 44]
Oct 2010: Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 [Age 45]
Apr 2011: London Marathon 3:18:30 [Age 45]
Apr 2012: London Marathon 2:57:04 [Age 46]
Oct 2012: Chester Marathon 2:55:36 [Age 46]
Apr 2013: London Marathon
Oct 2013: Amsterdam Marathon
Apr 2014: Boston Marathon

Has 2:45 become less or more probable as a result of this effort?
Undoubtedly more probable :)

Other Performances at Chester

Dave Crossley  - Clubmate who ran a 4 minute PB with 3:15:32. Dave had been targetting 3:10 for a GFA place but to go 4 minutes quicker than VLM on a significantly tougher course is a very big improvement in the last six months, probably much bigger than he actually realises.

Adam Prentis - Mr Adam 'I'm just going to take it easy today' Prentis ended up taking his PB down from 3:29:18 to 3:21:41. And with splits of 1:42:38, 1:39:03 I suspect one of only a handful of negative splits on a course which is certainly tougher  in the second half.

Phill Taylor - Bearing in mind the situation at halfway, when I saw Phill at the end I was expecting him to say that he had finished 6th or 7th maybe. But, oh no, the wily campaigner had timed his efforts to perfection and worked his way up to 3rd by the end to land himself a nice little £250 bonus and a bottle of bubbly. Theres nothing like experience and patience when it comes to tackling a marathon.
2:32:40 (1:15:45, 1:16:55)

Caz Hall - As with Kelvin Dickinson, Caz defied all known logic by running 3:17:58 just seven days after a 3:14:15 in Berlin.

Summary of 10 weeks of training
Not bad at all really. Overall it consisted of:

595 Miles (incl. the taper weeks) so not huge mileage.
9 x runs of 18+ miles
18 x races (800m,1500, 2 x 1 Mile,3000m, 8 x 5K, 10K, HM + 3 others)
7 x Comeback PBs (800m (2:20.05), 1500m (4:47.30), 1 Mile (5:00.2), 3000m (10:05.57), 5K (17:25), HM (1:18:41), Marathon (2:55:36)

An eventful and very enjoyable 10 weeks.


Next comes a month of injury proofing, aka laziness :)

Then November and December will be quite a relaxed period racing anything and everything that I fancy doing with no great logical process involved.

From January onwards it will then be time to repeat this 10 week process going into VLM and hoping to move closer to that 2:45 benchmark.

1 comment:

  1. good job! and bring on the sloth-factor!! i always say i'm a runner so that i can be lazy in all other areas of life, post-marathon u get even more license to sloth. good luck on all those upcoming goals! :)